An in-depth look at the life and work of 19th century British musical team Gilbert and Sullivan, this film goes beyond faithful renderings of their timeless operettas to expose the backstage shenanigans of their company and the strained relations between straitlaced librettist Gilbert (Broadbent) and dissolute composer Sullivan (Corduner). Just when it seems the two have reached the end of their creative tether, they're inspired to create one of their most enduring works, "The Mikado."
Director Leigh meticulously recreates the London that belonged to Gilbert and Sullivan. The film's mix of pageant and backstage drama accelerates the long running time, and you find yourself lost in the look and textures of that time and place. Musical renditions, sets, and costumes feel stunningly authentic, reinforcing why the pair was the toast of England. Both Broadbent and Corduner excel in the leads, each in their way conveying the frustrating predicament of an incompatible partnership.